The Government's Review into Children's Social Care has been promised as 'once in a generation' opportunity.
Below are the areas BASW members have put forward as priorities, to ensure the review responds to the needs of children and families first.
1. Ensure a Transparent Process
Social workers must be kept up to date with each stage of the process, reasons behind key decisions, and the way in which the review is conducted. There should be no bias towards predetermined outcomes and models - rather, we expect an open, inclusive and honest approach.
2. Place Lived Experience at Heart
For the review to be meaningfully co-produced, it should be led and designed for and by care experienced people. Care experienced people must be leaders within the review team.
3. Ensure an Anti-racist, Anti-Oppressive Approach
Black and minoritized care experienced voices must be central to a review which has significant implications for their communities. Voices must include women and girls, those impacted by structural inequalities, those who are d/Deaf, disabled, LGBT+ and neurodiverse.
4. Adopt an Anti-Poverty Approach
The experiences of children and families most in contact with such services are heavily shaped by family poverty, housing stress as well as poor access to early support arising from years of public service austerity. The children’s social care system is hugely underfunded. The Review must deal with this upfront and powerfully in order to have real credibility
5. Uphold Children and Family Human Rights
The review should be grounded in a children’s rights perspective. This should include a clear statement of commitment stating that the legal, safeguarding and wellbeing rights of children will be core to the review, that legal rights for children and families will not be watered down and that all children will be covered by these rights (e.g. including asylum seeking and refugee children).
6. Be Independent from Government
The review needs to be independent of government, inclusive, transparent and accountable. All appointment processes should be clear and transparent, and reassurance must be given that all conclusions will be free from any existing agenda.
7. Involve Practicing Social Workers
The vast and wide-ranging experience of social workers of all levels, from student to advanced practitioners and directors, should be central to the review. For the review to be as informed as it possibly can be, it will rely on the wisdom and experience of social workers, based on the vital work they do day in day out across the country and in an array of settings.
8. Make Time for Social Work
Our 80:20 campaign highlighted that on average, social workers spend just 20% of their time doing relationships based practice, and 80% is spent on administrative tasks. The review needs to focus on early help, strengths and relationship-based practice. Most importantly the review must focus on creating a well-resourced system (including preventative provision) that provides the right conditions for good social work practice with a focus on improving the outcomes for children and young people.
9. Consider the Impact of the Pandemic
The review is starting while we are still in the midst of the pandemic. Social workers are working in extraordinary and stressful times. It is essential this Review respects existing good work and engages social workers effectively and wholeheartedly in pandemic circumstances and is not rushed. The long term impact of the pandemic on children's social, emotional wellbeing, child development, education, access to opportunities should all be considered.
10. Focus on Existing Strengths
In the midst of adversity, social workers have worked incredibly hard, and there have been countless examples of creative, dynamic and innovative practice amidst unimaginable hardship. BASW England commends the dedication and commitment of social workers and celebrate the good practice that does exist in children’s social services, including the dedication and contribution of children and family practitioners and support staff
Further information regarding the above can be found in our recently published Vision for Social Work with Children and Families, as well as the most recent position statement on the review from the BASW England Children and Families group.